Listen Up! There's Actually Nothing Slippery About That Slippery Slope

We love the sharp turn-of-a-phrase. Often because it substitutes clever for thoughtful. Take that infamous ‘slippery slope.’ Whenever someone wants to lock in their argument they drag out this classic. Legalize marijuana…? That puts us on a slippery slope to becoming a stoner nation! Require gun registration…? Slippery slope to confiscating all arms! The President sending weapons to Syria….? Slipper slope right into the hell of another Iraq!

Lets get serious here. Predictions like these are like saying a 5-game Cubs winning streak is sloping them into the pennant.

If such straight-line projections were actually valid, then New York City should be ankle deep in horse manure based on the slippery slope predicted in 1900 with the growth of the city’s horse population. But life doesn’t work this way. Ask any logician and they will identify slippery-slopes as a classic logical fallacy. Because, you see, there is no reason why people or cities or nations can take one course but then change their mind in mid-course.

Shall we illustrate?

Last week a British man called the local police to register a complaint about the prostitute he had ordered. He argued: “She was not as attractive as advertised. That’s breach of contract.” Had the London police arrested the Mistress in this case, someone somewhere could have seen this action as a slippery slope leading to the end of prostitution as we know it.

I leave it to any John’s in the audience to decide. As for the police, they hung up!

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